Essay on Big Tobacco And The Cigarette Industry

1537 Words Aug 14th, 2015 null Page
For the majority of the twentieth century, Big Tobacco was invincible. The cigarette industry was a national, economic behemoth, and managed to escape almost every controversy it faced unscathed. With Congress on its side, the industry managed to filter out any liabilities. After the Labelling Act of 1965, companies were ‘forced’ to place warning labels on their packaging: Cigarette Smoking May Be Hazardous To Your Health. These vague, flimsy words proved more potent than any armor against the onslaught of lawsuits that were to come (Brandt 255). No one won against Big Tobacco, because they technically weren’t at ‘fault’ for any harm done by cigarettes. The consumers were ‘warned,’ after all. But if the cigarette industry was Goliath, then David and his slingshot came in the form of Rose Cipollone, a woman who died prematurely of lung cancer after smoking cigarettes for over 30 years.

Cipollone died in 1984. Her case against several cigarette companies had been opened in 1983, after she discovered she had lung cancer, and continued even after her death. The companies she sued included Liggett & Myers Company, Philip Morris, and Lorillard—all the makers of the brands she smoked. The jury’s final ruling was that Liggett had to pay the plaintiff $400,000 in damages, considering Cipollone had smoked their cigarettes before the labelling act had come into fruition, and had been unaware of their harm. In the ruling, it was concluded that Cipollone was 80% responsible for her…

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